The heat of summer begs for water activities and picnics, requiring lighter fare and old standards. For many that may be hot dogs, burgers, chicken or other grilled meats but I am always more focused on the sides. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are at their peak flavor right now and the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Among my favorites are sweet corn, new potatoes, green beans and tomatoes. I think most people would agree that nothing rivals the taste of tomatoes, vine ripened and freshly picked. The heirloom varieties top my “best flavor” list.
But then there is sweet corn. Available for such a short window, the hunt is always on for the vendor with the freshest and sweetest selection. I grew up eating corn on the cob that was shucked and then boiled way too long, but today my preferred method of preparation is grilling. The caramelization of the sugars and the char from the fire is near culinary perfection. New potatoes are yet another taste treat of summer. Whether grilled, roasted, boiled or steamed they serve as a blank canvas waiting for creativity. They may be the most versatile of all vegetables and certainly a favorite of many.
That said, today I am featuring a twist on the old picnic classic, potato salad. Looking for a recipe that would excite my taste buds, I found this while perusing a cooking magazine. A weakness for a runny egg and a lover of mustard, the idea of pairing them with the new potato made me drool. It was as if egg salad and potato salad got married with grainy mustard officiating.
POTATO SALAD with 7-MINUTE EGGS & MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine/ June 2015
2 ½ lb. new or baby Yukon gold or red potatoes, scrubbed
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 t mustard seeds
3T apple cider vinegar
2T whole grain mustard
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 c parsley leaves with tender stems, chopped
3T coarsely chopped dill pickles or cornichons, halved
2T fresh chives, snipped
- Steam potatoes, covered in a steamer basket set in a large pot over boiling water until tender, 20-30 minutes, depending on size. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile cook eggs by bringing water to a boil in a large saucepan and gently lowering the eggs into it. Cook for 7 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and chill until cold. Drain and peel; set aside.
- Toast the mustard seeds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing constantly until seeds start to pop, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl (have it ready so you can work quickly).
- Whisk vinegar, mustard, and honey in a large bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually add the olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper and set aside 3T for drizzling at the end.
- Halve potatoes and add to the bowl with the remaining vinaigrette. Add parsley and toss to coat, season with salt and pepper, toss again and transfer to a large bowl or platter. Halve the eggs and tuck into the potatoes. Drizzle with the reserved 3T of vinaigrette.
- Top with pickles, chives and toasted mustard seeds.
Do ahead: Eggs can be cooked a day ahead; drain, cover and refrigerate. Peel just before serving. Vinaigrette can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill.
Note: If runny yolks are not your thing, cook the eggs 1-3 minutes longer for a yolk that is more set.
Perfectly balanced with the tartness of the mustard and pickle against the creaminess of the egg and potato, this salad has been making an appearance on my picnic table all season. I love the challenge of updating the standards and have found this a perfect substitute to the mayonnaise version we have seen for oh so long. Sometimes the same old same old has to get a facelift.
If you are one that resists change I urge you to bust out and give those baby potatoes a star role at your next summer gathering. The do ahead tips make it perfect for any meal when time is of the essence. For many of us that is every meal. Right?
With August presenting itself yesterday, we are sadly reminded that there is only one official month of summer remaining. You better take advantage and plan that cookout or picnic quickly. Don’t forget to invite the season’s bounty and keep spreading the love, one side dish at a time. The farmers markets are bursting at the seams right now making it the perfect time to support local growers. Until next time, sending love to the farmers and to all of you. Jeanne